New technologies that bring 3D models of the existing world will be displayed and discussed in “reality computing’s” first conference, REAL 2015.
Most of us work in 3D. Quite a few buildings are 3D BIM. Product design is done with solid modeling. Even mapping and GIS professionals realize the world is not flat. But, while making and visualizing in 3D, we often have only our imagination to see our creations in the world in which they will exist. A new building has to be imagined on the city block. A car has to be imagined being put together on the assembly line.
That is about to change.
3D digital model of factory was made using photogrammetry and is displayed amidst existing infrastructure. Image courtesy of HKM, from Autodesk blog post.
New technologies are quickly emerging that promise to make it easier to model the existing world, the context of your creation, so you cannot just imagine it, but see it in all its glory – before it is created. This will have BIG implications for the work we do as architects, civil engineers and product designers.
- Architects could place a skyscraper within a skyline. Or hear how the wind might inadvertently howl in the space between buildings.
- A production engineer can see a CAD model of the latest car going through an existing production line. And see problems before they shuts down the line. (Volvo is actually doing this, see below)
A CAD model of a car heads down a 3D model of an assembly link, created from multiple 3D laser scans. (Image courtesy of Volvo)
So Many Questions. How Do I Get Started?
Either an architect or an engineer would be hard-pressed to model an existing city or an existing production line. There’s not enough time for that much modeling -- that much detail. But what if you could take a few photos with a point and shoot camera and bam! There's the 3D model.
Such is the promise. So vast is the implication. Can the entire world be so easily modeled? A digital home in which you can create, house your design, give context and scale? How do I get started? Is there more to it, more software to learn, hours spent manipulating point clouds, skills I don’t have or resources I have to contract?
Enter a new conference that explores this technology and hopefully answers at least some of these questions. REAL is taking place this February in San Francisco and it plans to address both the wonder and the reality of “reality capture.” Though being marketed to a broad range of interests (artists, visionaries, etc.), the conference will offer a lot to architects and engineers as well. Conference attendees should be able to get a reading on the state of the art in reality capture tools, such as:
- Photogrammetry – creating 3D models from simple digital photos
- 3D laser scanning, from expensive tripod-mounted rotating head laser scanners to cheaper “paint the model” hand-held scanners.
- UAVs (drones), which are incredibly cost-effective platforms that enable scans of large scale, from natural formations to square miles of a building site, highway construction, more.
The Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan, defaced and defiled by the Taliban, were reconstructed digitally from tourist photos. Image from Autodesk post.
If work-related stuff isn't enough, there are some really cool applications of 3D scanning you will have to see. Dr Louise Leakey, paleontologist (yes, from that famous Leakey family) has been able to bring some of the most famous hominid skulls to the world digitally -- on your computer for close examination. You don’t have to go to Tanzania. And remember the Buuhas of Bamiyam UNESCO World Heritage Site destroyed by the Taliban? Autodesk was able to reconstruct the towering, irreplaceable statues digitally -- from thousands of tourist snapshots found online! (see video) I'm hoping for that presentation to be made at the conference.
And did I mention the conference is in San Francisco? A great place to visit.
For more information
REAL 2015 - official website. Use discount code REALTeN to get 25% off the registration fee.